Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Next on the Agenda - PM's Election.

Eyeing Top Post: From left Steve Abana, Manasseh Sogavare, Danny Philip, Derek Sikua and Gordon Darcy Lilo. [photo: taken from Solomon Star]

After six (6) days of counting, forty-eight constituencies have had their results known and winners declared. The next 'big thing' now is offcourse the election of a prime minister and the formation of a new government. As reported by Solomon Islands media, lobbying is now well underway and the usual practice of getting into political camps is now happening. Here are some of the headlines in Solomon Islands media.

In Solomon Star, the headline is "PM's election the next big event". The Solomon Times online, reporting in the news media as National Express newpaper reported "Political 'Camps' Kick Start Lobbying Process"

So far some wining candidates have made their intentions known that they would contest for the top job.

Island Sun has reported that former Prime Minister Dr. Derek Sikua will definitely seek re-election for Prime Minister to continue from where he had left as the previous prime minister. As reported by Island Sun his current focus now is on the formation of the next government. But with a possible election petition looming it is still very unclear whether the final finger will point at him as the candidate to lead the next coalition government.

Dr. Sikua's former CNURA ministers who are members of the Solomon Islands Democratic Party (SIDP) have so far scored the highest number, with eleven (11) of them successfully re-elected. On the outset it may seem that they do have the upperhand to negotiate for the formation of the next coalition government, with any of their prominent members like Steve Abana, Matthew Wale or Rick Hou as potential candidates. However, with unpredictable nature of our politics, it is still very difficult to say whether or not they will form the heart of the next government.

President of Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement (SIPRA), the country's longest serving Member of Parliament, Job Duddeley Tausinga, has also been reported as a potential candidate for prime minister. Solomon Star reported that the party has indicated that they will push for their leader to have a senior position in the next government, if not being the next Prime Minister and that they are open for negotiations with other winning parties.

According to another Star report, SIPRA will only have one candidate for the post and that any of their party members who would want to also contest for the high position will be running as an independent. This statement of solidarity, I believe, comes after earlier reports that another high profile SIPRA member, Gordon Darcy Lilo is also eyeing prime ministership.

Another candidate for Prime Minister is the Reform and Democratic Party (RDP-SI) leader, Danny Philip. As reported by Solomon Star RDP-SI's endorsement was made prior to the elections that should they have the majority, their candidate for the top job would be their party leader.

Manasseh Sogavare is also another predictable candidate for Prime Minister. Despite the disappointing outcome of OUR party in the elections, One Television has reported that Sogavare is still very optimistic of his chances of forming the next government, working closely with other parties such as the Direct Democratic Party (DDP) led by new West Makira MP, Dick Ha'amori.

Another quiet candidate is the president of the Association of Independent Members of Parliament (AIMP), Snyder Rini. Though not a political party, the AIMP does carry significant political weight in the house as shown by the  successful election of Rini in the last Parliament, with the backing of PAP. And though PAP does not have many winning members in this House, MP's such as Milner Tozaka, a former Diplomat will sure command respect from some of the returning and new MPs.

The President of People's Congress Party PCP), Fred Fono, may have been ousted, but another of the party's influential members, former diplomat, Seth Gukuna has retained his seat.He can be an uniting factor for any possible political groupings. Who knows? Anything can happen!.

Obviously, things are still very unclear. However, one thing is certain; that in order to have a strong coalition government, a lot of compromises and 'reconciliations' must be made.

For a start, it was clear in the last Parliament that Sogavare and Gordon Darcy Lilo cannot work together. Remember, Lilo was the main character behind the disintegration of the former GCC government, an experience Sogavare can't easily leave behind.

Along with Lilo, Steve Abana, the current leader of SIDP also played a central role in the ousting of Sogavare as Prime Minister. The pair was later sacked by Sogavare from the GCCG, a move which marked the 'begining of the end' of the GCCG regime.

The spiral of political events began with the demotion of Job Duddeley Tausinga as Minister for Forestry and Research, a move which later resulted in his resignation from GCCG and later the mass resignation of twelve (12) other GCCG ministers and backbenchers.

The last nail on the coffin of GCCG was placed by Dr. Derek Sikua who successfully moved the motion of no confidence against PM Sogarave, the first ever no-confidence motion to have been moved and passed on the  floor of parliament.

Dr. Sikua lead the CNURA government because he was the 'common denominator' in the whole CNURA 'equation'. He was new and politically seen as 'neutral'. Many of the 'old hands' can relate to him easily, rather than to see one of their 'rivals' taking premiership . Within CNURA there was political wrangling.

This was evident in the many policy inconsistencies and compromises CNURA as a government had to bear to keep the coalition intact. Things came to light with the 'eleventh hour' sacking of two senior Ministers, the re-elected Snyder Rini and Gordon Darcy Lilo.

Though sacked at the same time, these two also hold very differing ideologies and ambitions and for them to work together would mean for them having to "kiss and make up".

So whatever the outcome may be, we can only be certain after a prime minister has been successfully elected. Politicians are very unpredictable characters and sometimes they can just walk over their hard feelings against each other, all for the sake of grasping power. Once they are up there, that is when trouble starts to re-emerge. No wonder only one government has ever survived a full four year term? No wonder no government has ever been consistent in its policy formulation and implementation? No wonder political ambitions always override national interests and public value? No wonder iumi no save move forward lo development?

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